Climate change will hurt world food prospects, U.N. group says

10/16/2009 04:21:09 PM
Tom Karst

Climate change will turn the heat up on Africa’s growers.

The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization said the global impact of climate change in regard to food production may be small overall through 2050, but developing countries may suffer a 9% to 21% drop in their potential agricultural output because of global warming.

Growers in developing countries — particularly Africa — will require an infusion of investment capital in coming decades to ensure the world population has enough food, the FAO said.

African countries may be most vulnerable to a deepening dependence on food imports, with as much as 15% to 30% of their agriculture potential subject to loss in the next 70 years.

Investment in poorer countries will have to grow fivefold to ensure that there is sufficient food to feed the world’s projected population of 9.1 billion people by 2050, the report said.

Higher temperatures, greater carbon dioxide concentration, changes in rainfall, increased competition for nutrients from weeds, pests and disease will be among the long term effects of climate change, the report said.

Emissions from agriculture account for an estimated 14% of global greenhouse gas emissions. Of that total, about 74% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions are in developing countries. Poorer countries also account for about 70% of the world’s potential to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the FAO said.

Until 2050, the FAO predicts moderately rising food prices and increasingly erratic agricultural productions.

After 2050, the FAO predicts further increases in temperatures and even more substantial increases in the cost of food. Disease and pathogen disease pressure will likely increase and labor productivity may dip, the report said.



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